Doctor pediatrician and baby patient in clinicIt’s the second trimester of your pregnancy. You’ve prepped the nursery, you’re on top of the appointments with your midwife, and you’re making your way through a pile of parenting books at a good pace. Now what?

The most common recommendation is to begin the search for a pediatrician between 28 and 34 weeks into the pregnancy. Because parents are even more protective of their children’s health than their own, finding your baby’s first doctor is an important and overwhelming task – but it doesn’t have to be.

Follow our 3 simple steps and soon you’ll be ready to introduce your newborn to the pediatrician who could be treating them for years to come.

1. Allow Plenty of Time and Research

Give yourself plenty of time to find the right fit – especially if you tend to procrastinate when it comes to the big decisions. By starting the search early, you have a chance to really think about everything that will be involved in your little one’s medical care.

During the first two years of your child’s life, you will have ten well-baby visits alone. These routine check-ups assess your child’s growth and development, so they will be in addition to any appointments you may need to schedule for other medical concerns. You should feel comfortable with the doctor, the location of the clinic, the hours of operation, and even the waiting room. After all, this pediatrician will play large role in you and your baby’s life.

What will feel like a great fit for your sister may feel totally off for you, so don’t assume that you’ll be able to go with your first referral. Aim for six to ten names from family, friends, and colleagues. Just make sure the doctors you are interested in are part of the American Academy of Pediatrics, are taking on new patients, and are covered by your insurance.

2. Get More Information with Interviews

Once you’ve shortened your list to three pediatricians, it’s time to set up the interviews. Not only is this a chance to get a feel for the doctor’s character, bedside manner, and approach, it’s also an excellent opportunity to experience what a visit to the office might be like. Just bear in mind that some clinics bill interviews as a visit, so check in with your insurance company and the clinic to be clear ahead of time.

Pay attention to the whole process. Is it hard to get an appointment at the clinic, and are you on hold regularly when you call? Though being on hold for a few minutes each time may not feel like a big deal now, with a crying newborn in your arms, it may be a different story. Once you’re in the clinic, take note of the atmosphere. Are there toys, books, and maybe even a TV to entertain the children while you wait? Consider chatting to a parent nearby to get some additional insight.

When you sit down with the pediatrician, focus on the questions that are important to you and your family. Find out the doctor’s stance on breastfeeding, vaccinations, use of medications, and any other values-based concerns that may come up. Observe the doctor’s temperament. Are they cheery and energized, or grounded and patient? Consider what you will need as a new parent, and whether this doctor’s energy will be a good fit for you. The personal connection you make with a pediatrician is an essential factor, as parenting is a vulnerable process and you’ll need someone you can trust.

3. Reflect on Your Decision

Just because you thought a pediatrician was right when you chose them doesn’t mean you won’t change your mind once your child is born.

If after several visits with your pediatrician you feel that it’s the wrong fit, don’t worry. Start by sharing your concerns with the doctor. If your issues cannot be solved, you can always switch over to a new pediatrician. Be sure to stay with your child’s current doctor until you find a new one, so that you still have support in the event of any medical concerns. Once you’ve chosen another pediatrician, simply call the old clinic and request that they transfer your records. It’s as simple as that.

Finding the perfect pediatrician is very personal and can be a difficult decision for new parents. Contact Tri-City Medical Center today to learn more about our expert team of doctors, who may be just the right fit for you and your child.